There was no Shanghai surprise in qualifying on Saturday as Lewis Hamilton claimed his third successive Chinese Grand Prix pole, beating Nico Rosberg.
Hamilton signalled his intent in his very first flying lap of Q3, posting a 1:35.782 while Rosberg crossed the line 0.280s slower.
Both drivers had a second run late in the 12-minute session however Hamilton was unable to improve on his previous best leaving it up to Rosberg to challenge.
But while the German upped his pace, he fell short by 0.042s.
It was Hamilton's 41st career pole and meant he maintained a 100 percent record in qualifying for the 2015 season, while it was also the fifth time that he took P1 in Shanghai.
Behind them Williams initially held the best of the rest positions with Felipe Massa third ahead of Valtteri Bottas before Sebastian Vettel, using a set of scrubbed tyres, split the Grove pairing.
Opting for brand new soft tyres for the final run, Kimi Raikkonen climbed to third place only to be dropped by Bottas who in turn lost out to both Vettel and Massa.
The quartet – all battling to be runners-up to Mercedes – ended with Vettel third ahead of Massa, Bottas and Raikkonen.
Daniel Ricciardo was seventh ahead of Romain Grosjean, Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson.
Pastor Maldonado and Daniil Kvyat missed out on Q3 places by 0.07s and 0.082s respectively while for the first time this season neither Toro Rosso driver made it into the qualifying shoot-out.
Max Verstappen finished P13 and Carlos Sainz one place further back while Sergio Perez was 15th.
Meanwhile, despite being in ninth and 12th places as the drivers began their final flying laps in Q1, both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso found themselves falling down the timesheets.
The McLaren duo each had one lap of their own to try find a way into Q2 but it was not to be. Button finished 17th, 0.2s away from a Q2 berth, while Alonso was 18th. The team-mates were separated by 0.004s.
Nico Hulkenberg qualified just ahead of them in 16th place while the Manor drivers, Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi, were slowest of all.
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:35.782
2 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:35.824 0.042
3 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:36.687 0.905
4 Felipe Massa Williams 1:36.954 1.172
5 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:37.143 1.361
6 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.232 1.450
7 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:37.540 1.758
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:37.905 2.123
9 Felipe Nasr Sauber 1:38.067 2.285
10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1:38.158 2.376
11 Pastor Maldonado Lotus 1:38.134
12 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:38.209
13 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1:38.393
14 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:38.538
15 Sergio Perez Force India 1:39.290
16 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:39.216
17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:39.276
18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:39.280
19 Will Stevens Manor 1:42.091
20 Roberto Merhi Manor 1:42.842